13 Dec

Thoughts on Tiny House Living

Tiny House Steps and Railing

We have permanent steps & a railing!

Well, we’ve been living in our tiny house on wheels for a little more than 2.5 months now… actually for as long as we waited for it to be built! How fast the time flies. It’s been quite the journey trying to get settled in 100%, and though we’re close, we’re still not quite there yet.

But what we do have is a fully functional, comfortable home. Jim and I discussed it this morning (seems we are endlessly reflecting on this) and we still love living in a tiny house, especially this one! Our house suits us perfectly. There is nothing that we don’t have that we need, including plenty of space to live and thrive as a couple and as individuals.

We’ve already had plenty of cold weather here in southwestern Colorado (though not much snow yet), and we’ve been doing fine. Jim’s creative, jury-rigged water pipe insulation system is working like a charm. Temps in single digits and nary a frozen pipe anywhere! He’ll have to do a video soon outlining exactly what he did.

Our 2 electric convection heaters are getting the job done fairly adequately and not costing too much so far. We are keeping our house cooler than we did in Boise, but honestly, it’s been OK. The coldest times are at night and we’re under our electric blankets then, so it’s fine.

We got our permanent front steps built, which include a 6 foot wide platform that is 4 feet deep. So, plenty of room for 2 or 3 people to stand comfortably at the door. In nice weather, we may even be able to fit a chair on the mini-deck. We also built a matching redwood tone railing!

Jim has laid 12″ patio pavers down as a sort of sidewalk out to our cars and back to the shed. They also are helping us not to step down on to mud off our wood steps. He also added some river rock around them in places. Our lot needs a lot of landscaping work, but that will have to wait till next spring/summer. Meanwhile, we’re controlling the mud best we can.

We’ve started moving even more stuff from our storage unit over to our shed and storage benches. We may need another small shed to hold all our outdoor toys and Jim’s tools. Our indoor storage in the house is pretty maxed out. Once we deliver stuff that our kids wanted from our old home, we hope to pretty much have the storage unit emptied out, which will be a relief, financially.

Kathi lounging with the kitties

Kathi lounging with the kitties

Inside projects are pretty much done, except… I’m really not liking the curtains I hung over the stairstep storage cubbies. Yes, they’ve made things look neater, but they just don’t work very well for getting into the cubbies and honestly, I don’t love how they look aesthetically.  We want to install hinged doors. Trying to keep costs down and repurpose the fabric I bought for the curtains, we’re going to experiment with making a frame and stapling the fabric to it for a door, then adding hinges and a latch. I think this will look nice and be cost effective. I may dye the fabric. The kitties will not be happy, though. They love hiding in a couple of the cubbies. 🙂

One of the things we loved about our house when we moved in were the clean lines and uncluttered appearance. We are now left trying to strike a balance between making the house “homey” with some of our sentimental knickknacks and pictures, etc. vs. cluttering it up. I’m not sure how we’re going to resolve this in the end.

I’ve read a few articles and posts on Facebook where people learned that tiny house living really didn’t suit them, for various reasons. As I said, Jim and I talk about this all the time, and I really don’t see that happening for us. We are beyond content and I honestly can’t see why that will ever change. We don’t miss our “stuff”… we were never interested in impressing or trying to keep up with the neighbors… we like not paying more than $1000/month just to a mortgage. We like a simpler life. It might not be for everyone, but it was definitely the right choice for US.

Until next time,

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23 Nov

Nesting & Homesteading at Harmony Haven Tiny House

Well, we’ve been in our house almost 8 weeks now… 2 months! How the time has flown. We finished most of the big moving in and installing projects in the first 4 to 5 weeks, but that didn’t mean we were fully moved in or settled. Not by a long shot.

Yes, we had what we needed to live a comfortable life… but the outside was still a bit of a mess and we still had tons of stuff in storage! So, this last month has consisted of what Jim affectionately terms, “nesting” (inside) and “homesteading” (outside).

We have done these homesteading tasks:

  • Bought and built a 7×7 resin shed (Rubbermaid’s Big Max), with 5 spacious shelving units
  • Bought and built 2 resin garden “benches” to store Jim’s tools and pet supplies, among other things
  • Moved a lot more of our stuff over from the storage unit to the new shed and benches
  • Laid some temporary pavers to use as sidewalks and step landings until we can do a more permanent job next spring when warmer weather returnsk
  • Bought & installed a bike barn to protect our bikes from the elements
Big Max Shed

Big Max Shed

Shed shelving units

Shed shelving units

Bench storage

Bench storage

Our new sidewalk

Our new “sidewalk”

Our bike barn

Our bike barn

And these nesting tasks:

  • Hung a 3-tiered basket to hold fruits & veggies & a magnetic knife block
  • Hung several paintings and cross stitch pictures
  • Got me an old school desk at a thrift store and refinished it to use as a desk and sewing table
  • Built shelving in the craft loft to store craft & office supplies (and moved them all in)
  • Hung an Ikea bar & hook system to hang some of my sewing tools
  • Hung our TV (although it’s not currently working) & a shelf for our DVD player
  • Made a mail crate for our kitchen counter to combat clutter
  • Hung curtains on the stair cubbies to make them look a bit neater
  • Finished a small kitchen backsplash
  • Extended the sides of our underwear/sock drawers so they’ll hold more without spilling
  • Installed a new doorbell
Magnetic knife block

Magnetic knife block

Curtains on the stair cubbies

Curtains on the stair cubbies

Kitchen backsplash

Kitchen backsplash

TV & DVD shelf

TV & DVD shelf

Spring in the Tetons painting

Spring in the Tetons painting

Mail box!

Mail box!

My treasured grandkids

My treasured grandkids

Jewelry rack

Jewelry rack

Craft & office supply storage

Craft & office supply storage

My office nook in the loft

My office nook in the loft

Extenders on sock drawer

Extenders on sock drawer

My aunts painting & another cross stitch from Mom

My aunts painting & another cross stitch from Mom

One of my mom's crossstitch hangings

One of my mom’s crossstitch hangings

We still have work to do, but day by day, our house is becoming more and more our home!

Until next time,

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16 Nov

Help Us Win Tiny House of the Year!

Future Tiny House of the Year

Future Tiny House of the Year

We belong to a Facebook group called Tiny House People. If you have any interest in learning more about tiny houses or maybe even building your own one day, I highly encourage you to join the group. It’s a great, supportive and informative group of people! I only wish I’d learned about it before the Tiny House Jamboree. It might have been more helpful when we were still planning and starting to build our tiny.

Anyway, there was a post there back in October about an upcoming, just for fun contest for tiny home owners, called Tiny House of the Year. There’s an overall category and then several specialty categories. We decided to compete in the contest. If you have enjoyed following our tiny house journey and love our house, we’re asking for your support.

As I said this is just for fun. The winner gets a very tiny house-shaped statuette… no money. Oh, and bragging rights. We want the bragging rights! 🙂

Here’s the overall category entry: Tiny House of the Year

And these are the links to our other entries:

The voting goes through the middle of December and as far as I can see, you can vote every day. So, please vote for us now and often!

THANK YOU! 🙂

Until next time,

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10 Nov

An In-Depth Look at Our Storage Staircases: Harmony Haven Tiny House

Because of the interest in our 2 general video tours (14K views & counting!), Jim & I thought  people might be interested in taking a closer look at some of our design and storage features in our tiny home.

So, here is our first in-depth look. This time, Kathi takes us on a tour of our storage steps, which are a work in progress. Strongly considering making some kind of wood frame with the fabric stapled to them as a screen, rather than hanging curtains. Time will tell.

For now, enjoy the tour!

Until next time,

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06 Nov

Harmony Haven Photo Shoot!

We’re excited to share some semi-professional photos we had done last week in preparation for the posting of our video tour on RelaxShacks. Jeramy Boiks, who works at our builder (Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses) shot these photos and he really got some wonderful pictures. I’ve already started using my favorite, of our house in the trees, as our blog header.

Here are the others (as in everywhere on our blog, you can always click to enlarge any of the pics)…

Aerial shot of our house and us

Aerial shot of our house and us

Back view of the house

Back view of the house

Our cute little bathroom

Our cute little bathroom

Mason Jar pantry

Mason Jar pantry

Bedroom loft

Bedroom loft

Romeo keeping guard

Romeo keeping guard

Living room

Living room

Laptop storage

Laptop storage

Front view

Front view

Long view

Long view

My office & craft loft

My office & craft loft

Jim showing off our pull-out pantry

Jim showing off our pull-out pantry

Our shower

Our shower

Welcome to Harmony Haven!

Welcome to Harmony Haven!

Until next time,

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05 Nov

Tiny House Lovers Unite! Help Make Tinies Legal

Next Steps for Legal Tiny HousesIf you read my post from October 24th, then you know the tiny house community nationwide is fighting to make living tiny legal. The battle is being waged on many fronts, both locally and across the nation (and even the world, although many other countries don’t seem to place as many restrictions in the way as the U.S. governing authorities do).

One of the ways we’re battling is by making tiny houses legit… in other words, providing a uniform building code that both DIYers and tiny house builders can adhere to, thus easing many of the fears of building inspectors that our homes are not safe or well-built. Neither of the existing codes for traditional homes or RVs truly apply to tiny houses.

So, as I reported in the other post, the new code appendix that was crafted by Andrew Morrison passed the initial recommendation vote of the ICC. Now it’s time for the rest of us to contact our local building authorities who are members of the ICC to urge them to vote affirmatively for this code.

I know most people in the U.S. are currently distracted by our upcoming presidential election… and rightly so. But this is important, folks, so if you love tiny houses and hope to live in one someday (or you just support my right and others to choose our dwelling size), then please do what you can to help!

It’d be great if you could talk in person or on the phone with these reps, but if nothing else, can you send an email?

This article (click the link) provides all the details, as well as a letter you can even copy & paste right into your email program. Easy peasy! (NOTE: You can double click the infographic in this article to see it in more detail.)

Thank you!

Until next time,

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26 Oct

Updated Video Tour of Harmony Haven

Jim and I have been offered the opportunity to submit a video tour of our house to a YouTube channel with 114,000+ subscribers (RelaxShacks). Exciting! We’re already enjoying pretty viral growth of our videos… this should explode it. We’ve just been so surprised and awed by the positive comments we’ve already been getting on our layout and our interior design choices.

In preparation for that, we reshot our video tour with the help of Jeramy Boik, one of the employees of Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses, who is an avid photographer. That new header up top is thanks to Jeramy. 🙂

So, here is our video tour… look for updates on our placement at RelaxShacks over the next week or two. We’re also going to have some other exciting news shortly. Watch for that here!

Here’s the updated tour: 

Until next time,

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24 Oct

A Historic Day for the Tiny House Community

ICC Hearings - Tiny House Community Leaders

Tiny House Community Leaders

On Sunday, 10 leaders in our nationwide tiny house community, including Andrew Morrison, BA Norgaard and Macy Miller, spoke before the ICC in Kansas City, MO in support of a brand new building code for tiny houses. It was designed to address many of the hot issues regarding tiny houses, including secondary egress, loft height and more.

The unthinkable happened! The council recommended by a strong majority that the code proposal be endorsed. This does not make it a done deal. It simply means that the new code advances to the next step, which is a vote by the nationwide membership of the ICC. So, we still have a lot of work before us until this becomes a reality.

What was unprecedented with this was that the council stated that such new type proposals “never” pass on the first presentation. It usually takes multiple presentations over 6 to 9 years before such things pass.

So what made the difference this time? Well, they said it was the people and the human stories… and seeing that the people proposing this new code for tiny homes aren’t looking to do anything radical or to subvert society. They’re just looking for the option to determine the size of their homes, while following industry standards for solid construction and safety. It didn’t hurt that Macy Miller (our Boise tiny house representative) was able to speak eloquently and firsthand of her imminent eviction from her home of 3.5 years… for no good reason, other than Boise city zoning inspectors don’t know how to classify her home!

Every day, we see more and more media coverage of tiny homes and the people who choose to live in them. Tiny home living is not just a fad or a passing trend, folks. It’s a legitimate lifestyle choice. People should able to choose to live in a home with a small footprint that doesn’t require them to go into debt for 30 or more years.

In future posts, I’ll be sure to report how our readers can help support this freedom of choice. Meanwhile, you may want to watch this video Jim & I viewed at the Tiny House Jamboree back in August.  Christian Parsons and Alexis DeHart Stephens of Tiny House Expedition have documented some of the challenges of living tiny legally and what certain jurisdictions are doing to help. They are currently working on Part 2, which will contain footage of the ICC hearing I describe above. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfLAKgJGc2g

Until next time,

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21 Oct

Making the Right Choices When Simplifying

Our kitchen, with everything we need

Our kitchen, with everything we need

It’s not easy, this simplifying stuff. We made so many agonizing choices last spring/summer, when sorting through all our STUFF in our old 1200 square foot home. We let go of functional things like appliances and tools. We let go of furniture that had been in my family for decades. We let go of sentimental items. We let go of clothing. We let go of Jim’s truck that he loved. So much…

Yes, it was freeing in many ways to not have all those things to take care of and store. But at the same time, when there’s an emotional attachment to those things, it can be hard to accept that maybe you don’t really need them.

But what I wanted to talk about today was how you actually make those decisions. As I blogged last February, I started with the book, The Magic of Tidying Up. The strategy there was to let go of things that did not give you joy. That worked… to an extent. But when you go tiny, you have to let go of a lot more than just the stuff that doesn’t give you joy.

I actually let go of quite a few things that DID give me joy, but that I knew wouldn’t serve a practical purpose in our new life and our tinier living space. I was fortunate that some of the sentimental things, like family photos, certain Christmas decorations and mementos are going to my daughters. We sold some of our most treasured furniture items and Jim’s truck to friends, so we still feel somehow attached to them.

Somehow, we managed to downsize about 90% of our possessions, we think, when all was said and done. And yet… we still have a storage unit right now that contains things we’re not going to be able to find room for, even when we build a shed. So, there will be another round of decisions needing to be made.

So, how did we do with the choices we made last spring/summer… some of them seeming pretty brutal and extreme at the time? Well, as I was pondering that question this morning, I came to the realization that we did pretty darn good!

We’ve been living in this house for almost 4 weeks now and it’s working! We’re living a quality life, with everything we need on a daily basis. The kitchen appliances and dishes, etc., that I kept are what I need to prepare our meals. The clothes we have are enough.

We do miss Jim’s truck sometimes right now while we’re moving stuff and still building. But that won’t last forever. On a day to day basis, once all our initial projects are done, we’re not really going to need a truck. Certainly we won’t need 3 vehicles! And our 2 little commuter cars are really best suited for our new lifestyle and the small town we live in.

Jim has had to buy a few tools, but that’s because we couldn’t have anticipated that we were going to end up parking on an undeveloped lot that needs some TLC. And I’m sure as time goes on, I will miss some of the craft supplies I gave up, but the tradeoff is this wonderful new life we are living. And anyway, I may be too busy with our new outdoor-oriented life to do as much crafting anyway! (I did keep my sewing machine/supplies and quite a bit of my fabric, and that’s my favorite craft anyway.) 🙂

Life is good.

Till next time,

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17 Oct

The Simple Pleasures of Owning a Tiny House

It's the little things

It’s the little things

Simple pleasures… they’re what make life worth living, don’t you think? 🙂 As we move into our 4th week of living in our very own tiny home, I’ve been thinking a lot about these simple pleasures, and I felt moved to blog about it.

I am so very grateful for this life we are now living, for our beautiful home and for our health to enjoy it all. So, I thought I would enumerate some of the little things… or simple pleasures… that make life meaningful for me, as I look around and live in this place I call home…

Tiny House ShowerOur beautiful, brightly lit shower. I gave up space in my kitchen to have a 3 foot x 4 foot shower in our tiny house bathroom, rather than the more traditional 3×3 cube shower. Even better, our builder suggested a light over the shower… such an improvement over the dark holes our showers in our past couple of homes had! And the pretty, glittery tile surround was a happy accident, but adds so much to my enjoyment of this shower! The oil-rubbed bronze fixtures just add to it… and let’s not forget the glory of hot water!

The beautiful colors in our beetle kill pine paneling and loft flooring.  Every board is like a work of art, and I could gaze at this wood the rest of my life and never get tired of it.

Tiny house cat on a pillow

Misty on her pillow

Our kitties being so content in their new home. We’ve had to convert them to indoor cats, due to the dangers of traffic and predators in our new environment. But they have taken to the new home like crazy, loving all the nooks and crannies and places to climb, run and jump. I’ve never seen them look so happy… and they’ve stopped harassing each other too. 🙂

The natural light that floods our home with warmth and illumination. I think we have just the right amount and placement of windows in our home. I’ve always loved natural light and we have it in spades here. The windows in our lofts almost make it seem as though we’re in a tree house.

My multicolored pendant lights in the kitchen. I had a vision of what my kitchen would look like and it included multicolored pendant lights. But when I went to buy some, I could not find 3 in the shape and colors I had envisioned. I spent hours shopping locally and online before I finally found what I was looking for. And I love them!

Mason jar pantry

Mason jar pantry

My slideout pantry and Mason jar shelving unit. Storage is so important in a tiny home. There can never be enough! We didn’t ask for much custom built-in work, but one of the things I always knew I wanted was a slide-out pantry. The original plan was for what I envisioned… a one can-wide set of shelves that would slide in next to our fridge. What I got was so much better. Because of some other design changes on the fly, we ended up with a 9″-wide pantry slideout. And… one of the workers came up with the idea of the Mason jar shelving in between the studs on the bathroom wall. Genius! So much unexpected food storage!

Our cedar railing up to the bedroom loft. We were originally going to have pipe railings to both lofts, but then midstream decided it would be safer for our aging dog to have a wood railing on the outside going up to the bedroom. What Nico constructed for us is another work of art. As it turns out, our dog has not attempted the stairs and we think it’s probably better that she doesn’t. But the railing is beautiful… and well used by us humans! 🙂

I could go on and on all day, but those are some of the little things about my house that I am loving day to day. And that doesn’t even count the simple pleasures of living in Durango. Our beautiful river and its accompanying trail, the “greenness” of this area after years of living in high (brown) desert, the friendliness of the people… and more.

Life is good, and it truly is the little things in life that make it worth living.

Till next time,

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